John 3:16 is essentially a mini gospel.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
- John 3:16 (KJV)
Breaking it down, here are some of my thoughts on it.
It's pretty obvious there is a God, and most people will agree with that, saying there is indeed "something".
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.
- Romans 1:20 (KJV)
This requires a little bit of faith to start with of course.
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
- Hebrews 11:6 (KJV)
Most people then say: "If there is a God, why then is there so much suffering?".
When God created Adam and Eve they only had the knowledge of good which was in full compliance with God's Law - the Ten Commandments.
- No other gods
- No idols
- No blasphemy
- Keep the Sabbath (Friday sunset to Saturday sunset)
- Honour your father and mother
- No murder
- No adultery
- No stealing
- No lying
- No coveting
Under God's Law this world was a happy world.
When God created man, He gave them free will, and God explained what the knowledge of evil would do.
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
- Genesis 2:16-17 (KJV)
When we break God's Law (sinning) it is so severe that we are given the death penalty.
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
- Romans 6:23 (KJV)
We have all broken these laws, over and over and over and ...
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
- Romans 3:23 (KJV)
When Adam and Eve gained the knowledge of evil (and started acting on it) things went bad pretty quickly.
And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
- Genesis 4:8 (KJV)
Because of our sins, God has hidden himself from us.
But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
- Isaiah 59:2 (KJV)
God will let this sinful world run its course for a set time, so that it will be really obvious what happens when God's Laws are not kept. What is happening here on Earth is essentially a lesson for eternity.
God however loves us so much, that He has given us a way back to Him, e.g. the plan of salvation.
Jesus (the Son of God) has taken our place, and has died for our sins on the cross. This is important to understand.
Because of the sins we have committed we received the death penalty, and Jesus is a sacrifical Lamb that has died in our place.
The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
- John 1:29 (KJV)
There is much more to this, but at the heart of it that's all you need to know and believe, e.g. Jesus died for our sins.
That's why John 3:16 is such a powerful verse. A Father that gives up His Son (carrying your sins) to die on the cross. That has got to be the ultimate expression of Love.
If you believe you are a sinner, and that Jesus paid for your sins with His blood, then you will be given eternal life. Your sins will be forgotton.
I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.
- Isaiah 43:25 (KJV)
There is nothing else you will need to do (except for repenting daily of course).
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
- John 14:6 (KJV)
Can the gospel be that simple?!?
And he brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? So they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.
- Acts 16:30-31 (KJV)
And again, salvation is by grace through faith.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
- Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV)
Grace is the gift of God. There's nothing you can do to earn it. It's a free gift.
God is more than willing to forgive your sins, provided you repent.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
- 1 John 1:9 (KJV)
Ask God to reveal Himself to you, and He will. He will give you everlasting life.
And that's why gospel means "good news".